Investor Conferences Are Not What They Seem

There’s a fundamental adage in the social sciences when it comes to observing human affairs: all is NOT what it appears to be.  The season of investor conferences has begun in person yet again. Bevnet. Nutritional Capital Network. And so on.  Founders new to the industry should

Do You Know Your Brand’s Key Attribute?

One of the enduring challenges in premium CPG innovation is that the founder(s) are usually category geeks. This makes it hard for these founders to accept that even their early fans may not be so geeky. Fans may routinely gravitate to a specific attribute embedded in your offering. Differing groups of fans may gravitate

Want to Attract Great Partners? Run a Great Company!

It sounds so obvious; it almost seems sad we have to discuss it. But here’s a great description of the problem founders with NO track record face in the CPG industry: they disproportionately attract weak talent from within their immediate social circle, exploitative partners, and

Startup Ecosystem Has It Gotten Better Since the 2000s?

Yes and no… I got into a debate recently with a seasoned investor who was adamant that the ecosystem of resources is better for today’s founders of consumer brands than twenty years ago. When I pressed him for his rationale, he pointed to the greater amount

The Tragedy of Sh*tty Buyer Pitches

I should admit, first of all, that I’ve only been inside one retail buyer ‘pitch’ while consulting for a significant multinational food company years ago. It was painful for reasons that don’t concern you. Actually, no. There was one thing these boneheads did that still

Closed vs. Open Niche Markets

You probably know by now that I promote the idea of building the business early on by finding and creating heavy-using fans. To do this practically with a tiny budget and a small team, I advocate building heavy usage inside small social networks predisposed to

Why VCs in CPG Bully and Micro-manage and How to Prevent It

It’s no secret, I hope, that venture capitalists in any sector already know that most investments in their fund won’t generate a return. It’s the 10% or so that will that they count on. But which ones? Well, that’s a mystery worthy of a psychic. They

Making Weird Acceptable is One Use of Language

 In my book – Ramping Your Brand – there is a line that gets at the fundamental danger in CPG innovation, the fundamental threat to above-average memorability in a crowded, oversupplied marketplace. “Rarity in its purest form—rare ingredients, rare flavors, rare sensory textures, rare symbols, and rare consumer

Sell-through Data for Strategic Planning

One of the more common portals to cash register data for retail sales is the SPINS Satori portal. SPINS will sell you data on your brand through Satori, account by account. The original intent was to support your sales team by giving you competitive intelligence

The Problem with Growing Too Slowly

Although I caution against chasing unicorns, this is not meant to validate any brand's growth rate in the single digits, YoY. This slow growth rate may be in line with the premium CPG sector overall, and it may be much faster than commodity brands in most